The Real Meaning of Work

December 28, 2011

Guildman: Darkness, we want to try out a prototype agricultural robot on your plantation.

Darkness: No! Permission denied!

Singaporedaddy: Give it a go. What’s the harm Darkness?

Darkness: What is the point of automating agriculture Singaporedaddy? Coming to think of it, what’s the point of using a tractor to dig a ditch, when what I can do is employ ten men who really need jobs to do the same with shovels? The Guilds are awash with money – that is why they can fritter away their largesse by building contraptions that no one wants to buy. But you are all missing the point here gentlemen – what we need to do is not to go faster, fasterer and fasterest. Are we in the business of selling high blood pressure along with coffins? What we have to do is to be as inefficient as possible and still be able to turn a profit – to be slower, slowerer and slowerest, if possible. Infact, I’ve been trying to get my workers to take naps during the afternoon when its impossibly hot to work – this way at least, people who work with us may even consider bringing their families to our plantation – they will not see it as work, but rather as a way of life that they much prefer to have. This is the direction that we should go. Any bloody fool can go faster, fasterer and fasterest. But it takes a genius to go slower, slowerer and slowerest and still be able to turn a profit – I do not pretend to suggest for one moment this is easy to do or even believe it can stand up to modern standards of accounting – but it is because this is so impossibly hard to do, that is why it has to be done.

(Extract of a conversation with the Guilds somewhere in the Vadanium Galaxy onboard the Free French Starcruiser KDD Marat – The Brotherhood Press 2011)

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